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Old 03-16-2013, 06:41 AM   #1
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Indoor MR16 soffit questions


Hello,

We are purchasing another apartment to combine with our existing apt. The floors and ceilings are 6" concrete that management forbids attaching anything to or channeling into.

So I would like to build a small soffit around the perimeter of the bedrooms and living room for lighting.

I'm looking at MR16 wide beam halogen (concerned that LED just won't give off enough light and dispersed enough light).

So now I'm trying to figure out whether 120v or 12v (with built in transformers) is the way to go (I think a series of 35 watt bulbs would be just fine).

My biggest concern is safety: The soffits will be steel sheetrock stud built with sheetrock over it and completely sealed with concrete ceiling above and walls behind and to the side. So, I'm concerned that a series of MR16 bulbs will generate enough heat to be a fire hazard.

I know there are IC rated and airtight housings, but I'm not sure either will do the trick.

In our current apt, we have soffits built with Par28 cans with 90 watt halogens and we have no heat issues at all.

Can someone please guide me on this?

Thank you,

Joseph

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Old 03-16-2013, 06:44 AM   #2
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Indoor MR16 soffit questions


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Originally Posted by josephnyc View Post
Hello,

We are purchasing another apartment to combine with our existing apt. The floors and ceilings are 6" concrete that management forbids attaching anything to or channeling into.

So I would like to build a small soffit around the perimeter of the bedrooms and living room for lighting.

I'm looking at MR16 wide beam halogen (concerned that LED just won't give off enough light and dispersed enough light).

So now I'm trying to figure out whether 120v or 12v (with built in transformers) is the way to go (I think a series of 35 watt bulbs would be just fine).

My biggest concern is safety: The soffits will be steel sheetrock stud built with sheetrock over it and completely sealed with concrete ceiling above and walls behind and to the side. So, I'm concerned that a series of MR16 bulbs will generate enough heat to be a fire hazard.

I know there are IC rated and airtight housings, but I'm not sure either will do the trick.

In our current apt, we have soffits built with Par28 cans with 90 watt halogens and we have no heat issues at all.

Can someone please guide me on this?

Thank you,

Joseph
Recess lights contain thermal overloads, not sure what your safety concern is? Also, when was the last time you saw concrete catch on fire?

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Old 03-16-2013, 07:21 AM   #3
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Recess lights contain thermal overloads, not sure what your safety concern is? Also, when was the last time you saw concrete catch on fire?
Excellent points, thank you!

I didn't know about the thermal cutoffs.

Is there any reason for concern regarding the sheetrock catching on fire?

Just to be clear, you would not be concerned about the complete lack of air flow in the soffit, right?

So does that make 35 watt 12V MR16 Halogens, placed about 2.5' apart, with each housing having it's own transformer a perfectly safe setup in a basically sealed soffit?

Thank you very much!

Last edited by josephnyc; 03-16-2013 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:23 AM   #4
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Excellent points, thank you!

I didn't know about the thermal cutoffs.

Is there any reason for concern regarding the sheetrock catching on fire?

Just to be clear, you would not be concerned about the complete lack of air flow in the soffit, right?

So does that make 12V MR16 Halogens, played about 2.5' apart, with each housing having it's own transformer a perfectly safe setup in a basically sealed soffit?

Thank you very much!
If the lights you install are UL approved and you follow the installation instructions, I dont see why you would have any concerns....?
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:33 AM   #5
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If the lights you install are UL approved and you follow the installation instructions, I dont see why you would have any concerns....?
Great, thanks.

This concern started when I realized that I wanted as small size soffit as possible for the bedrooms (8' ceilings) and I discovered the shallow housings (3.5" high for Chinese; 5" for Halo) which would allow me to building short soffits. Then I found the IC vs. non-IC and airtight vs. non-airtight and it got me thinking about the heat.

Then I read about magnetic vs. electronic transformers and how the electronic ones are less likely to produce an audible hum.

That sort of brings up the next step in this:

I can go high end, American made or Chinese made for a small fraction of the cost.

I'm looking at about 65 fixtures (+ trims, bulbs, etc.), so the cost difference is quite substantial.

Any help would sure be appreciated.

Thank you
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:41 AM   #6
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Great, thanks.

This concern started when I realized that I wanted as small size soffit as possible for the bedrooms (8' ceilings) and I discovered the shallow housings (3.5" high for Chinese; 5" for Halo) which would allow me to building short soffits. Then I found the IC vs. non-IC and airtight vs. non-airtight and it got me thinking about the heat.

Then I read about magnetic vs. electronic transformers and how the electronic ones are less likely to produce an audible hum.

That sort of brings up the next step in this:

I can go high end, American made or Chinese made for a small fraction of the cost.

I'm looking at about 65 fixtures (+ trims, bulbs, etc.), so the cost difference is quite substantial.

Any help would sure be appreciated.

Thank you
I would stick with american made, you could end up with garbage transformers and end up replacing them quickly, so the money you saved upfront could be short lived.

Electronic transformers are a lot quieter, but dimming them gets more expensive.

Since the structure is already built and insulated, you don't need IC type cans, since insulation is not needed.

As a side note, I don't like Halo brand fixtures, I find the trims discolor very quickly, we use a lot of Lightolier, but probably out of your price range.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:18 AM   #7
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I would stick with american made, you could end up with garbage transformers and end up replacing them quickly, so the money you saved upfront could be short lived.

Electronic transformers are a lot quieter, but dimming them gets more expensive.

Since the structure is already built and insulated, you don't need IC type cans, since insulation is not needed.

As a side note, I don't like Halo brand fixtures, I find the trims discolor very quickly, we use a lot of Lightolier, but probably out of your price range.
Wow, thank you so much for the explanation!

I was thinking that the IC and airtight would inhibit the airflow which might be the opposite of what I want inside the soffit.

What would you consider a close contender to Lightolier?

Can you recommend a 2000 watt dimmer good for electronic transformers?
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:25 AM   #8
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Can you recommend a 2000 watt dimmer good for electronic transformers?
LOL, good luck with that!
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Old 03-16-2013, 10:55 AM   #9
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LOL, good luck with that!
Didn't mean to but I'm glad you got a laugh.

Let me back up...

As I see it, both of the bedrooms will have over 20 lights each (possible 23 or 24). That's 700-840 watts plus whatever is lost at the transformers. So my thinking is that a 1,000 watt dimmer would be too close.

Is there a 1200 or 1600 watt dimmer that's good for electronic transformers?

Can you recommend a brand other than Lightolier?

I'm particularly interested in a shallow housing so I can make the soffit as short as possible.

Thank you.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:02 PM   #10
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Charlie: I got your PM, but because I don't have enough posts, I cannot reply via PM -- so I'll reply here:

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Hello, I'm unable to reply to forum threads for some reason but PM's work for me! How big is your room that you're installing these lights in? 20 lights (or 23, 24) seems like a lot for one room.
Hi Charlie,

Thanks very much for your help.

It's actually 3 rooms (2 bedrooms and a living room).

Here's a layout with soffits in red and lights in green -- it's just my first attempt, so it's all subject to change).



Thank you,

Joseph
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:25 AM   #11
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Indoor MR16 soffit questions


I'm considering revising the bedroom soffits to use only 2 per bedroom (along the long walls).

Also, the local lighting store guy says he has shallow UL approved fixtures but they'll only handle 35 watts and that if I put 60 degree floods in, the intensity compared to 36 degree floods will be less.

Wouldn't that make it wiser to put 50 watt fixtures and bulbs in at 60 degrees so that when I want the intensity it'll be there?

Also, he says regular lutron dimmers will work fine with electronic transformers.

This is what he sells:

http://www.iuseelite.com/en/product.php?p=bl3re-s


Also, I'm thinking about making the soffits shallow (from the ceiling) but come out farther from the wall (like 20" or so) in case we put a bookcase or other high furniture in there.


Would love to hear people's thoughts on this.

Thank you,

Joseph



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